Pregnancy and childbirth in the United States is among the most expensive in the world. For many people, even those (like me) who have private insurance, the out-of-pocket expenses are astounding. Of course, there are some private insurance companies that simply don't have maternity care at all, which means that the $32,000 hospital bill may very well end up on the shoulders of the brand new parents.
Stay classy, America. I mean, really, this is appalling. Let me get this straight: Women can't have their birth control paid for according to some lawmakers, abortion is verboten, and childbirth itself costs an arm and a leg and insurance companies aren't mandated to cover it. They make arbitrary decisions that affect our bottom line and hurt families in so many ways.
Then, when you finally pay off the hospital bill, you get the joy of a 10-minute maternity leave followed by $2,000 a month in (unsubsidized) child care. I am so proud to call the U.S. home sometimes.
The reality is, we pride ourselves on being a country where "family values" run high, but the reality often looks far bleaker. For many, the high cost of maternity care might actually stop them from procreating. Or worse? It might stop them from doing important tests for fear of the costs.
Pregnancy is supposed to be a joyful time, one of intense love and excitement. But when you are worried about the cost of every single test and procedure, it's the opposite of that. It becomes fearful and stressful.
As I prepare to give birth to my third child, I have been astounded by the hidden costs my insurance company didn't tell me about. First I pay the deductible, but it seems like every test they claimed was covered has actually cost us the full amount. There is always some reason they don't cover it.
And then never even mind the birth. I dread giving birth to this baby because I fear it will cost upwards of $10,000. And I HAVE insurance!
It's a truly sad state of affairs. My husband and I are lucky. We are both paid well in our positions and we can afford to have a third baby. This is an annoyance, but it's not a financially devastating one. But there are so many families who aren't in our position. What about them?
There is something so damaged about a country that claims to support families and wants people to procreate and then does absolutely nothing to support them once they do. And, of course, the irony is that most of the people who make the least and could benefit the most from changed policies are blamed for wanting "handouts."
It's part of our job as good parents to raise our children in a financially stable environment. Sadly, I feel like this country is doing its best to make that out of reach for far too many of us. It's unconscionable and doesn't show any signs of changing.
How much did your birth cost you?